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Merc ad vp Jeff Kiel appointed publisher

Jeff Kiel, who has been vice president of advertising at the Mercury News since 2002, was promoted today to publisher, replacing George Riggs, who will continue as president of the MediaNews Group’s California Newspapers Partnership, the Merc announced.

Before arriving at the Merc, Kiel was chief financial officer of the Miami Herald, then owned by Knight Ridder. Prior to that, he was a CPA. Kiel, 48, lives in Los Gatos.

Riggs, who had been publisher of the Contra Costa Times since 1993, was named publisher of the Merc in December 2004. A year ago, he was appointed president of the newspaper partnership but continued as head of the Merc. Today’s announcement said Riggs, 61, will step down from the Merc post to concentrate on his duties as partnership president.

The partnership includes the Merc, Coco Times, Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times, Palo Alto Daily News and other dailies in northern and southern California. MediaNews, headed by Dean Singleton, owns 54.2 percent of the partnership. Gannett Co. owns 19.5 percent and Stephens Newspapers of Little Rock, Ark. owns 26.3 percent.

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